Indians have been worshipping trees since time immemorial and this is done as a matter of gratitude because we know that life cannot exist without trees. In Indian culture, trees are believed to have consciousness like humans so they can feel pain as well as happiness like us. So trees and their products are part of our daily life, rituals and ceremonies.
As per ancient texts, our great sages, for the benefit of plants, animals, birds, the entire human race and the environment, had set up various sacred groves under the name ‘Saraswathi Vana‘, ‘Lakshmi Vana‘, ‘Anantha Vana‘ etc.
Trees planted in Anantha Vana are these sacred plants like Rudraksha, Kadamba, Ashoka, Kaashi Bilwa, Jambu phial etc. This has been possible with the support and guidance of eminent environmentalist Dr Yellappa Reddy and the Horticulture department, Lalbagh.
This project was initiated in Sept 2015.
At the heart of Anantha Vana we have a Rudraksha plant. It is surrounded by 14 Bilva plants, 14 Sita Ashoka, 14 Kadamba plants and 52 karavira plants(Neerium). Here is a brief introduction to some of the most sacred trees in India.
The term “Rudraksha” itself symbolizes Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva himself is considered to be the first ardent user and admirer of Rudraksha. Later devotees and sages began using Rudraksha as a blessing from Lord Shiva himself to protect mankind from worldly sufferings and miseries. With the development of modern science, many scientists researched for evidences that support the ancient belief on the significance of Rudraksha. All the scientists came up with the findings that reassured and confirmed the divine power of Rudraksha beads. Individual from every walk of life irrespective of caste, creed, religion, nationality or gender can use Rudraksha to gain maximum spiritual, physical and materialistic benefits.
Scientifically known as Elaeocarpus ganitrus Roxb, Rudraksha tree is a large evergreen broad-leaved tree, which grows in the area from the Gangetic Plain to the foothills of the great Himalayas and the middle area of Nepal. The main trunk of Rudraksha tree is cylindrical and has circular section. Rudraksha tree has grayish white bark and rough in texture with small vertical lenticels and narrow horizontal furrows. Its branches spread in all directions. Its leaves appear shining green externally and dull coriaceous internally. It has ovoid, conical and elongate flowers, nearly 1 to 2 cm in diameter. Its fruit is globose and drupaceous having a fleshy exterior and is light green in color. Rudraksha beads are covered by an outer shell which is blue in color and is hard and tubercle on the inside. On each Rudraksha seed vertical lines are seen running down its surface. These lines are called mukhi or “the clefts or furrows on the surface” and determine the type of mukhi Rudraksha. For instance Seeds with one vertical line are one mukhi Rudraksha, those with two lines are two mukhi and so on. Rudraksha beads contain 50.031 % carbon, 0.95% nitrogen, 17.897% hydrogen and 30.53% oxygen. It takes 15 to 16 years for Rudraksha to mature and bear fruits. It is kept in water for a number of days and then Rudraksha is taken out after peeling off the pulp.
Rudraksha comes from 1 to 21 mukhis, but Rudraksha of 1 to 14 mukhis are commonly found. Now mukhis from 22 upwards are also found every few years in small quantity and their properties have to be researched as no reference is available in ancient texts . The five-faced Rudraksha are found easily and abundantly. Depending upon the availability and production of Rudraksha different prices have been allocated for different mukhi.
It is the tree of Lord Krishna as he used to play his flute under this tree. His childhood activities like jumping in Yamuna, dancing with gopis, climbing on the trees were all done on or around Kadamba tree. So flowers of Kadamba tree are offered at various temples.
In North India, it is associated with Krishna while in the south it is known as “Parvati’s tree”.
Uses of Kadamba:
- The paste of the leaves of kadamba are tied over the wound or area affected with localized pain and swelling to reduce the complaints.
- The decoction of the bark of Neolamarckia cadamba is used to wash the infected wound.
- The decoction of the bark of the plant is used for gargling to treat mouth ulcers and inflammation of the gums.
- The decoction of kadamba is taken in a dose of 30-40 ml to treat diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome.
- The powder of the bark of the tree is given with sugar candy in a dose of 5-6 g to treat nausea and vomiting.
- The juice of the fruit of kadamba is given in a dose of 40-50 ml to treat excessive sweating, thirst and burning sensation of the body.
- The decoction of the root of Neolamarckia cadamba is taken in dose of 30-40 ml to treat urinary tract infection and renal calculi.
- The decoction of the bark of the tree is consumed in a dose of 30-40 ml to treat fever.
- The paste of the bark of kadamba is applied over black spots and pimples.
- The fresh juice of the leaf is consumed in a dose of 10-15 ml to treat leucorrhoea and increased menstrual flow.
- The fresh juice of the fruit is useful to increase the breast milk in lactating women.
- The paste prepared from the bark of stem and leaf of kadamba is useful to treat pain, redness and itching due to insect bite.
Bilva is another very auspicious and sacred tree in India that is supposed to be associated with Lord Shiva. The Bilva tree grows in almost all parts of India, irrespective of the nature of the soil, and is bitter, astringent and dry by nature. Tall and austere, with a stern aspect, gnarled trunk and sharp thorns, the Bilva is undoubtedly Lord Shiva’s tree. Shiva is always worshipped with its leaves, and it is said that this tree is much loved by him.
Benefits: The unripe fruit is roasted with a covering of mud, and the softened pulp mixed with water and sugar or buttermilk. It is more medicinal than the ripe fruit, if dried in the sun. This is highly beneficial in sub-acute and chronic dysentery or diarrhoea, and is useful in the irregularity of bowels in children, because it acts as a mild stimulant to the intestinal mucus membrane and therefore stops diarrhea, acting as a laxative when there is constipation. The unripe fruit cures excess vata and kapha, indigestion, stomach ache and dyspepsia. The ripe fruit acts as a laxative, and is aromatic, cooling; juice is an appetizer and blood purifier
Ashoka is one of the most sacred and well-known trees of India. In Sanskrit, Ashoka means without grief or the one who gives no grief. As per Hinduism, Kama Deva (Lord of Love) is associated with Ashoka tree. Even Sita Devi was kept by Ravana in Asoka Vatika.
Many medical benefits are associated with neem tree and because of this it is highly respected in India. It is supposed to be an expression of Goddess Durga. In Bengal, the tree is believed to be a place of living of ‘Sitala’ the great Pox-mother who can cause and cure disease. To cure pox, neem leaves are rubbed on the body and by offering a prayer to her.
Karavira (Nerium) plant
It is known as Kanagale flower plant in Kannada. Karavira pushpa is a flower preferred in worshiping Hindu gods. Native to the Mediterranean region, Iran, the Indian subcontinent and southern China.
An evergreen shrub (or small tree) that grows to approximately 6 m. A sticky latex is exuded if the stem is cut. Leaves are usually in groups of three and narrowly lanceolate. Flowers: The flowers are tubular with five lobes, red or pink in the wild, but maybe white, cream, yellow or purple in cultivars, and double forms have also been selected. Some are scented.
The fruit is composed of a pair of follicles that split along one side to release the seeds. The seeds are oblong, with a plume of hairs at one end.
The below photos are from our timeline since inception in Sept 2015: